Studies Look at Drug-Use Trend

Studies Look at Drug-Use Trend

From the state of the economy to geographic region or patient income level, many correlations can be found in prescription-drug utilization trends.

Earlier this month, Express Scripts researchers presented findings from utilization-related studies at the 18th annual meeting of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.

Age, Income and Utilization

In the first study, Express Scripts researchers looked at prescription-drug use from 2010 to 2012 to determine whether age and income level affect prescription-drug utilization. The study found that among a commercially insured population with equal access to prescription-medication coverage utilization varies among age and income brackets.

The study showed that for children and young adults up to age 35, prescription-drug use increased with income. For those age 35 and older, use decreased as income increased. Overall growth in utilization from 2010 to 2012 was higher in the lower-income brackets, suggesting that the recession of 2007-2008 might have taken a relatively greater toll on the household budgets of lower-income groups.

 Utilization Levels Off

Another Express Scripts study looked at emerging trends in prescription-drug use among beneficiaries with private insurance.

The study showed that after nearly a decade of steady growth, per-member-per-year utilization has leveled off over the past six years among those with private or commercial health insurance coverage.

 Express Scripts research indicates three reasons for this:

 Baby boomers started becoming eligible for Medicare and were no longer covered by private insurance.

  • Following the baby boomer generation, fewer people enter middle age each year, when the use of chronic medication becomes more common.
  • The portion of labor union members among Americans covered by private health insurance has steadily declined.

 Additional information on prescription drug use can be found in the Express Scripts Drug Trend Report